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Ahead of assembly show, 3 BJP CMs who stood the test of Lok Sabha polls and gained ground

Experts say the three leaders have earned respect even outside the BJP by delivering in the general elections.

india Updated: Jun 02, 2019 09:48 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Devendra Fadnavis,Manohar Lal,Raghubar Das
Devendra Fadnavis led the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance to a huge victory in Maharashtra, winning 41 out of 48 seats. The BJP bagged 23 of the 25 seats it contested.

Three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief ministers – Devendra Fadnavis, Manohar Lal Khattar and Raghubar Das — have emerged stronger after an impressive showing in the general elections, enabling them to tighten their grip in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand respectively ahead of assembly elections later this year, two senior party leaders said.

All three are first-time chief ministers handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 and had initially faced opposition from within the party. “The result of the Lok Sabha elections has established their leadership in the state,” the first leader said.

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Fadnavis (48) led the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance to a huge victory in Maharashtra, winning 41 out of 48 seats. The BJP bagged 23 of the 25 seats it contested. The BJP chose Fadnavis, a Brahmin, as CM ignoring seniors like Nitin Gadkari. He had a rough start with farmer protests and quota agitations, and resignation by veterans such as Eknath Khadse.

“Fadnavis has now established his leadership by delivering a string of victories in local body polls, assembly and parliamentary elections,” the first BJP leader said. “The way he dealt with the tricky issue of an alliance with Shiv Sena also earned him respect.” Fadvanis is likely to have a greater say in the Maharashtra assembly elections due in September-October, he added.

The BJP also won all 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana, where Manohar Lal Khattar (65) took over as chief minister on October 26, 2014. The BJP’s decision to appoint a non-Jat chief minister in Haryana did not go down well with the community, but it helped the party consolidate the support of communities, which resented the influence Jats wielded in the previous Congress and Indian National Lok Dal governments.

“After initial troubles and some controversial remarks, Lal has managed to emerge as a no-nonsense politician. The victory in the Lok Sabha election will help him firm his grip over the state,” the second BJP leader said. The Haryana elections are also due in September-October, and Lal will be in command.

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In Jharkhand, the BJP won 11 of the 13 seats it contested in the general election, and this should take the pressure off chief minister Raghubar Das, the first leader said. Das (64) was chosen for the hot seat after his bête noire and former CM, Arjun Munda, lost the 2014 assembly election. Das, too, faced opposition from colleagues. Losses in some bypolls put him in a difficult position, but LS results would have changed that. “He is a non-tribal CM of a state with a sizeable tribal population. The results will help Das silence the critics who predicted his political demise with a grand alliance in the Opposition,” the first leader said. Jharkhand goes to the polls in November-December. Das is expected to remain the chief ministerial face of the party.

Experts say the three leaders have earned respect even outside the BJP by delivering in LS polls. “All three were known as organisational men, but their ability to deliver victory in the electoral battle will help them emerge as leaders with a certain amount of mass appeal,” said Sidharth Mishra, president of the Centre for Reforms, Development and Justice.

First Published: Jun 02, 2019 07:23 IST